Have you ever gone to a mechanic to look over a used car before buying it? Have you ever purchased a house and gotten a home inspection done? These types of evaluations can help lower the risk of owning a lemon or a money pit.
In the same way, before purchasing a commercial property you might want to do an environmental assessment. The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment can help you make an informed decision, assessing the risk and liability that can come with owning property. It’s good to find out before you buy if the property you want used to be a gas station, or if the building next door used to be a dry cleaners.
The purpose of Phase I is to determine if a property is likely to be affected by toxic chemicals or petroleum hydrocarbons from gasoline and diesel fuels. A Phase I should be performed by an Environmental Professional. Like a detective, the Environmental Professional will search for clues at the property and seek to identify hidden problems. They’ll look through historical records for the property itself and for other known problem sites in up to a mile radius. They’ll find aerial photographs and topographic maps that show how the property had changed over time. They’ll find out what businesses previously operated at that address. Your final report will provide you with a comprehensive look at the property before you make the decision to purchase.
If no concerns have been identified, you’re probably good to go from an environmental perspective. But what if they find something? We’ll tackle that question next time.